Sen. Udall Asks FCC to Address Cell Phone ‘Bill Shock’

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As more and more people migrate to mobile devices, increasingly downloading video and other large data files in the process, the number of people who are unwittingly exceeding the limits on their monthly plans is on the rise.

In an effort to address a problem that already exists for millions of Americans, Sen. Tom Udall (D–N.M.) has sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski seeking the commission’s help in addressing the problem. He also has proposed legislation—the Cell Phone Bill Shock Act of 2010—that would “require cell phone companies to notify customers with a free e-mail or text message when they have used 80 percent of their monthly limits,” according to

"According to the FCC's survey of cell phone users, 30 million Americans—about one in six adult cell phone users—have experienced bill shock," Udall wrote Genachowski. "This survey also found that, in one in four cases, the additional charges were greater than $100."

The problem, asserted Udall, is that a vast majority of those people—about 85 percent—were not notified by the companies that they were about to exceed their usage limits.

"In many cases, a simple alert message would help consumers avoid bill shock and overcharges,” he wrote.

As more people purchase smartphones with internet browsers, making a universe of content immediately available to them, the likelihood that data limits will be breached is inevitable, and according to the article, already happening.

“Examples cited in recent news reports include the case of a Navy ROTC midshipman who mistakenly left his smartphone's roaming function turned on while he was abroad—and returned home with a bill for almost $1,300,” reported “In another case, a teen's cell phone data usage led to a $22,000 bill for mom and dad, and another man was billed $18,000 for a six-week period when his son used a cell phone to connect a computer to the internet.”

The issue is of direct relevance to producers of adult content, who are increasingly using the mobilesphere to engage consumers and deliver video content to them.